Main Image by Spencer Owens
Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the happiest place on earth. No, not Disney World. We are at Loretta Lynn's Ranch, just entering the final stages of the first big motocross race since the coronavirus hit back in March, and of course continues to linger and affect our everyday lives. And if you're an amateur motocross racer, or a retired pro, or even just someone affiliated with the industry, you've been waiting for this race through months of uncertainty. But somehow, some way, it all came together for the 39th annual Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, virus be damned. The opportunity to get back to the races and see so many old friends and rivals has been a welcome change from the doom and gloom that much of the rest of the year has been under the cloud of the pandemic.
That's not to say it hasn't had a profound effect on the event. Pretty much everyone here is doing what MX Sports and Loretta Lynn's Ranch asked them to do, which is wear a mask and social-distance when you can. Fortunately, this has been one of the mildest weeks here that I can remember, so wearing a mask around company is not nearly as bad as many thought it would be. If this were a normal Loretta Lynn's cauldron, we'd be miserable about the masks. Yet still, if it helps get riders back out on the racetrack, most of us would be fine with wearing a mask even with the hottest of summers. I'm just very thankful that we are here together, the motos are going off with full gates, on a great track, and everyone seems to have really needed this big shot in the arm.
The racing started at 7:30 a.m. sharp on Tuesday morning after everyone woke up to the race's anthem, Loretta's "Coal Miner's Daughter." That was after one full week of work on the track getting the otherwise beautiful green pasture up to its usual, nasty, competitive self. And since then, it's been almost non-stop moto after moto after moto. Needless to say, between this race and next Saturday's first-ever Loretta Lynn's Pro National, I have been extremely busy, both on and off the track. My son Vance and my daughter Sloane are here working right alongside the rest of the family, Vance on the finish-line camera from Racer TV, Sloane giving out medals and Stacyc holeshot checks, and we're having a ball. But the work never seems to stop, nor do the event activities. For instance, after racing from 7:30 a.m. to nearly 7:00 p.m., tonight's post-race activities include Andrea Leib's On-Track graduation ceremony, the Gear Raceway talent show, and my sister's Racer X Dog Show. So I have just a few minutes to give you an idea of what's going on here, so pardon this week's Racerhead for being rough and short, and late.
Hopefully, you've been watching the live races on RacerTV.com. If you missed any, they are already archived, each day. Also, in order to get a better idea of what it all looks like, you can check out The Weege Show, as Jason Weigandt is here announcing, reporting and just being Jason Weigandt. In between, he does his walk-and-talk, and it gives you a better idea of what this event is like.
My quick takeaways, in no particular order:
It was great to see Jett Reynolds, one of the most decorated minicycle racers ever, but lately hurt too often, show some of his potential on a big bike this week, as the Kawasaki Team Green prodigy is getting back up to speed, though his huge endo in the 10 Commandments was frightening. It was also great to see Nate Thrasher back at the ranch after missing last year with injuries.
I'm not sure there is a Ricky/James/Ryans/Eli-type talent here, but Levi Kitchen has been a revelation, as has Haiden Deegan. At first I thought Haiden “Danger Boy” Deegan was a little over-hyped, but last year he was really impressive, and this year he already looks like a polished prospect. Same goes for Ryder Difrancesco.
Kevin Walker won the Master +50 title after some good battles with Barry Carsten and Mike Treadwell. Walker, who has now won a record 15 titles here, has been absent for ten years from the ranch, as his life took a strange detour... After he got third in the first moto, Walker used his time on the mic to discuss his personal demons, his deep regret and long penance away from this place, and his hope to continue to be a part of the motocross community. It was a heavy moment, and hopefully a good one for Walker and his wife Tracie.
The Mini-E class went off without a hitch. The bikes are fast and fun, if strangely quiet. A kid named Kade Nightingale won, and when asked by the announcer if he wanted to thank anyone, he started with Cobra.
Our man Kris Keefer won the Senior +40 class and his son Aden is in the running in his C classes. Both of them had great podium speeches and made it sound like their summer together training and traveling has been one they will never forget.
There was a reunion of Team USA 2005 when Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Windham, and Ivan Tedesco all bummed into one another on the infield. RC is here to cheer on friends like Earl May and Tommy Rios, Windham came with his family to watch and ended up working a bulldozer for us, and Tedesco is working with Ryder D.
Also here as racer dads are LL alumni Tim Ferry, Tallon Vohland, Nick Wey, and Brian Deegan, to name a few. And here helping out young riders and watching are Mike Alessi, Kyle Lewis, Nathan Ramsey, Will Hahn, Kyle Regal, Matt Bisceglia, and more. And Mike Brown is here too, only he's not racing after all. After qualifying, but then not signing up for the actual national, Brownie had a change of heart and signed up, only to find himself listed as an alternate as the classes were full. He got in for the Junior +25, but the Senior +40 was completely full. So Brown decided to just take the year off and watch some new talent win his classes.
Also missing is Loretta Lynn's regular John Grewe, who got hurt earlier this summer and also took the race off.
Finally, there is a lot of talk about the upcoming Pro National here, and the whole Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship to follow. Like this race, it will look and feel different at first, but once everyone gets into the flow of this strange new world we live in right now, I hope it is as successful and well-received as our return to Loretta Lynn's Ranch has been. Motocross is a huge part of all of our lives, and to not be around it for so long has made 2020 much less than we've become accustomed to over our lives. But when it did come back, it felt like the best year ever. I really hope we keep this moment going, everyone stays safe, and professional motocross gets to its 2020 finish line, just like Monster Energy AMA Supercross did.
And speaking of that, Happy Birthday to my good friend Todd Jendro of Feld Entertainment. I hope you're having a great time celebrating and relaxing, you deserve it.
Okay, time to judge a dog show... Not sure if the dogs have to wear masks, but I do!
Preview Of The Preview (Matthes)
Next Friday we'll be coming to you from Nashville where I'll be staying for the FIRST ROUND OF THE LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP! Which is obviously exciting (I mean, I put it all caps) and can't wait to see some actual racing. As I said on our Zoom MX preview shows, the first round at Loretta's might be a bit of an outlier because I just don't have high hopes for the track, especially after watching some of the amateur action this week. it's tight, it's small, it's very start-dependent but hey, in these days, I'll take it you know? I just don't know what we can take away from the opening round is all. Round two in Washougal might be more of a guide to what we're going to see this summer.
Two guys that I don't think I spent enough time on in those Zoom preview videos (I blame Weege BTW) was Adam Cianciarulo and Chase Sexton, both 450 Class rookies. Sure, we touched on them but the more I think about it, I think both kids can possibly get into that top tier of riders (in my eyes anyways) of Eli Tomac, Cooper Webb, Zach Osborne, and Ken Roczen. Maybe not every week but I just don't think I touched on them enough on the shows. AC's the defending 250 Class champion and fast as sh*t pretty much every time he gets on the bike. Yeah, he'll make some mistakes here and there but he's going to have as much speed, if not more, than all those riders I just listed. Sexton will be that consistent guy that's not going to wow you but he will be solid in every area. I don't know, I just wanted to mention those two dudes.
Here's some other news and notes:
-Speaking of AC, I don't know if I put this here in this space but I know I tweeted it a while ago. Adam has re-signed with the Monster Energy Kawasaki guys for another two years. He had been riding under a one year deal (with pretty low base salary if my sources are right) and he had bet on himself performing in 2020 to get a multi-year deal with the green guys. And although he missed some SX with injuries, I'd say he played it pretty well so a new two year deal with take him through 2021 and 2022 on the only color he's ever ridden.
-Hearing the Dylan Ferrandis to Gas Gas thing isn't going to happen and he has signed with Yamaha for the 450 team. As I wrote about last week, whether Yamaha's 450 effort stays in-house or not isn't clear after a couple of long-term guys there got fired but whether it's in Cypress or Star Yamaha, I think Ferrandis will be blue in 2021 and maybe beyond.
-I see you people on my social talking about my hype for Zach Osborne for this summer. As in, you're not believers. That's okay, I get it. Just wait. Wacko is going to be a real factor all summer long for wins and podiums. Not saying he's beating that ET guy but he'll be there. Or I'll eat my hat. That was weird to say but sportswriters in the ‘70s said it all the time.
Histor-E (Mitch Kendra)
While the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at the Loretta Lynn Ranch will be a historic one for many reasons, one is that it featured the first ever Mini-E (4-6) Jr. class. On Wednesday night, young rippers had the chance to have the chance to lineup on the quiet but capable KTM SX-E 5 and Husqvarna EE 5 models. When the gate dropped, Kade Nightingale took the first ever Mini-E (4-6) Jr. class overall at the Loretta Lynn Ranch aboard a KTM SX-E 5, as Jaydin Smart (KTM) and Jeter Ramirez (KTM) finished second and third respectively. Nightingale would take the second moto in the Mini-E (4-6) Jr. class on Thursday as well as he and Smart battled for the win. Then, come the third moto on Friday, Smart took the moto win, but Nightingale’s 1-1-2 finishes bested Smart’s 2-2-1 for the overall win. Anderson Waldele (KTM) finished third overall after 7-3-3 moto finishes. Nightingale and Smart also battled one another in the 51cc (4-6) Limited class, where Smart's 2-1-1 moto finishes gave him the overall over Nightingale's 1-2-2.
Check out some of the highlights from the first ever Mini-E (4-6) Jr. gate drop at the Ranch.
Staging for the Mini-E (4-6) Jr. class. Derek Garcia The gate drop on the first ever Mini-E (4-6) Jr. moto on Wednesday night at the Loretta Lynn Ranch. Derek Garcia Nightingale in the first Mini-E (4-6) Jr. moto on Wednesday night. Nightingale took the overall in the class as well, after 1-1-2 moto finishes. Derek Garcia
MXGP Returns (Andras Hegyi)
Like motorsports all over the world, the coronavirus has robbed MXGP of most of their spring and summer races. The FIM Motocross World Championship ran two races—Great Britain and the Netherlands—before everything shut down in March. Thankfully, after months of waiting and planning, the restart of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championships this weekend in Latvia will be a welcome return for MXGP. The Kegums circuit will host three rounds over the course of eight days. It is the first of two "triple" rounds as Lommel in Belgium will also host three rounds. And then over the course of the series Italy will host five different rounds. And for the first time ever the FIM Motocross World Championship will be finished in November.
The Italian rounds will be at three different tracks. Mantova and Faenza will host the series two times while Pietramurata will host it once. Also, the circuit will visit a brand-new Spanish circuit called Xanadú-Arroyomolinos and it is situated near Madrid, the capital of Spain. It will be the 16th circuit in Spain that has hosted a Grand Prix.
And going back to 1957, seasons have finished in August, September or October. But this 2020 calendar will end in November for the first time ever, though the final schedule is still being worked out.
There's also a change in scheduling, as the European support classes will do both of their races on Saturday, while the premier MXGP and MX2 classes will go to a one-day format without qualifying races, instead doing a free practice, a timed practiced, and then two motos for each class. Below are the broadcast times for Sunday’s race.
The october 2020 ISSUE OFRACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The October issue of Racer X magazine is coming to newsstands and mailboxes soon. Subscribe to the print and/or award-winning digital edition today. And if you're already a digital subscriber head to digital.racerxonline.com to login and read the issue in full right now.
Inside the October issue of Racer X magazine
In a dark time, Chase Sexton’s rise through the sport has been a bright spot. Qualifying for Loretta Lynn’s 2020 was different this year, to say the least. Zach Osborne gets out of his comfort zone, hitting the GNCC series after netting his first 450SX supercross win. Sir Jack Burnicle on the summer of ’76, CZ motorcycles, Marty Smith, and much more.
These features and much more in the October issue of Racer X.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne started his summer right with a win at the season-ending Salt Lake City Supercross—then he headed to the woods to compete in the High Voltage GNCC.
Listen To This
This week on the Main Event Moto Podcast,Daniel Blair, GUTS Racing's Andy Gregg, Vincent "V$" Blair, and Producer Joe talk about the 450 class of the 2020 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Hang out with them as Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport and sometimes it goes off the rails.
This week Daniel Blair and Fly Racing's Jason Thomas talk about the behind the scenes of Monster Energy AMA Supercross. JT also discusses the new 2021 Fly Racing gear—which you can view and/or purchase at www.flyracing.com. Hang out with them as Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport and sometimes it goes off the rails.